A client of LDMI once told us that he was looking around the room during a Board meeting and an important realization suddenly struck him: This group of men and women — who have donated and helped raise tens of thousands of dollars for his mission — were all introduced to his nonprofit through direct mail. Major donors are one of the pillars of any nonprofit organization’s financial framework. Very often, major donors become important members of your organizational family, offering advice, hands on support, and a web of important contacts. But one of the most common questions nonprofits struggle with is, “How do we find more major donors?” The answer? Direct mail. The metrics for what constitutes a “major donor” varies across nonprofits, but a good place to start is with donors who have given a single $1,000 or more gift to your cause. Blackbaud’s data and analytics division, Target Analytics, reviewed giving patterns for more than 5 million donors to around 100 different nonprofit organizations to identify the factors influencing their first $1,000 gift to a nonprofit. According to their findings, “[H]ow donors made their first gift and the number of years they had been giving had a significant influence on when they made their first $1,000 donation.” Looking at the origins of the first gifts of these future major donors, almost half, 48%, made their first gift through direct mail. A case study of one nonprofit recently conducted by Analytical Ones found “55% of their $1,000+ donors” were acquired through their direct mail acquisition mailings. Going back a few years, the same group observed in a separate study that one-in-four first-time gifts from $1,000-$2,500 donors were through traditional direct mail acquisition, and one-in-six first-time gifts from $2,500+ donors. Analytic Ones summed up their findings stating: “Think of it another way, take away direct mail acquisition and a significant chunk of your future large donors will also go away.” These numbers shouldn’t be very surprising. Direct mail has been consistent in its ability to convince people to donate large sums of money to nonprofits for decades. As LDMI President Mike Lawrence put it: “One reason for this is that a well-crafted direct mail package is a communication that, in great detail, will give an interested recipient all the information they need about an appeal. It will tell them how the money will be used, it will allay their fears that maybe the money doesn't really go to the intended cause, it will make it easy for them to become a contributor or to repeat as a contributor to this cause. “The fact is, people like to get mail that they're interested in. They like to read about subject matters that they're interested in. An overwhelming number of non-profit contributors are above retirement age. And most retired people who are 65 or older like to get mail. And because they've done a good job of planning for their retirement, they have enough money to be able to send a non-profit $50 or $100.” Or $1,000, $2,500, $5,000 or even more! The above findings are backed up by LDMI’s 30 years of working in nonprofit fundraising. Major donors don’t just fall out of the sky. Most of them are sitting at home reading your direct mail — just waiting to be tapped for a big gift. So if your nonprofit is looking for more major donors, here are a few key steps you can take to get started: Create a robust and dynamic direct mail program. You can learn more about running a direct mail program by clicking here. [not sure what Sean was intending to link to here.] Use direct mail as a prospecting tool. Aside from ensuring your organization’s growth and sustainability, it’s also extremely important in finding major donors. And finally: Analyze your data and target donors for major gifts. The potential major donors in your database may be waiting for a major-giving direct mail solicitation, or even a phone call. For a Complimentary Fundraising Analysis, please click on the icon below:    
Recently, I attended the Direct Marketing Association of Washington’s (DMAW) “Lunch & Learn – The Retention Roadmap: The Guide to Converting, Retaining and Reactivating More Donors.” Caity Carver, the CEO of DonorTrends, and Ben Miller, the Chief Analytic Officer of Donor Trends combined their nearly 40 years in the industry to provide some extremely valuable insight for nonprofits on the importance of retaining donors. In 2016, an average of 99 donors were lost for every donor acquired throughout the direct marketing industry. Carver and Miller stressed over and over again that nonprofit organizations MUST routinely, even monthly, measure their: Overall donor retention rates, Repeat donor retention rates, and New donor retention rates. Metrics that are not measured cannot be moved, so every nonprofit should be measuring those metrics in order to improve them. Nonprofit organizations should also remember to benchmark only against their own retention rates, not industry retention rates. If you measure against industry rates, the data will likely be skewed. Reviewing this data will help nonprofits to know roughly how many donors they can expect to lose and how many they can expect to reactivate during the year. As part of the evaluation process, nonprofits should determine how much they are willing to spend to convert a donor, retain a donor, and reactivate a lapsed donor. Here is a short list of “Do’s and Dont’s” when measuring and improving donor retention rates: DON’T try to move retention without measuring it. DON’T set a goal and forget it later. DON’T measure retention only once a year. DO pick up the phone and connect with your donors. DO try and grow your monthly giving file. DO have superior donor service. DO properly identify your target market through thoughtfully examining your data. And last but not least, DO practice smart donor investment and selection.   For a Complimentary Fundraising Analysis, click on the icon below and fill out the form. LDMI will perform a thorough analysis of your fundraising efforts, at no charge and with no obligation.  
Adam Cassandra is our Creative Director at Lawrence Direct Marketing, Inc. Recently, he was featured in the Direct Marketing Association of Washington (DMAW) monthly newsletter Marketing AdVents. The piece is a short profile of Adam that discusses how he got involved in direct marketing, the importance of challenging yourself as a writer, and more. Check out the interview from the June 2017 Marketing AdVents below: Read more...
This blog was originally published in May of 2016. Because of the interest in the topic we've decided to republish it here. All non-profits have to develop strong fundraising campaigns. And like it or not, direct mail is still the key to a good fundraising campaign. Social media seems cheap and easy, but it remains a tiny portion of non-profit's revenue.  One of the first questions many non-profits ask when starting a Direct Mail campaign is, “How long should the letter be?” Those of us who have been in the business for decades know two things.    Read more...
  “Clean your room, please. Hey, clean your room. Did you clean your room? CLEAN YOUR ROOM!!!” If you have kids, you know the struggle of trying to get them to take action. You often need to repeat yourself multiple times — sometimes loudly. You know they heard you, they just aren’t responding. In marketing, there’s an old adage that someone needs to hear your message at least seven times before they take action. This repetition of message is applicable to fundraising in many ways as well, which is why there’s such a big push toward integrated marketing. This integration should include direct mail and email at a minimum, and social media networks should also be part of the plan. For nonprofits trying to communicate with their supporters, Facebook is a great tool. But according to a new report, most nonprofits aren’t reaching many of their Facebook fans with their posts. No matter how important, or loud, the message, it’s just not getting through like you hoped. M+R’s recently released its 11th Benchmarks Study of nonprofit digital advocacy, fundraising, social media, and advertising. 133 nonprofits working in a variety of sectors were surveyed for the study. The study found nonprofits increased the size of their social media audiences over the previous year, but on average, “a nonprofit will reach just 8% of its fans with a post that isn’t promoted.” Facebook’s ever-changing algorithms play a huge role in the lack of visibility of nonprofit Facebook Page posts, along with Facebook’s desire for ad revenue. “You can pay to increase that [8%] reach, of course, and that kind of paid promotion can be an effective part of your social media and digital advertising strategy,” according to the Benchmarks Study. “But the truth is, resources are limited and nonprofits do not pay to boost the vast majority of their posts. Only about 3% of posts by our participants had paid reach.” But even though only 8% of your Facebook fans will see any given post, some “good news” is that other people who aren’t fans of the page will see the post as your supporters engage with your content. “In fact, 45% of Facebook users who saw a given post were not already fans of the nonprofit. So most of the people who follow you don’t see your Facebook posts, and about half the people who do see your posts don’t follow you on Facebook,” the study found. To help nonprofits more accurately gauge how many Facebook fans they can expect to reach, the Benchmarks Study introduced a new metric: the Earned Reach Average (ERA). The ERA is the “average number of people who see a given post for every Facebook fan you have.” Here’s how it works: “Overall, the ERA for our participants is .225. For every 1,000 Facebook fans a nonprofit has, their next post will reach about 225 people. So if you’re a completely average organization ... with 60,000 fans, a given post will be seen by about 13,500 people (60 x .225=13.5).” More testing is needed to see just how accurate the ERA metric is and how it can best be utilized in a nonprofit’s marketing strategy. But it’s not all a numbers game. As the study rightly points out, “If you want to be seen on Facebook, the nature and quality of your content are just as important as the number of Likes you have.” Contact LDMI today for help creating, posting, and monetizing your nonprofit's Facebook posts. And click the icon below to download our free e-book, "5 Engagement Strategies for Non-Profits to Use on Facebook."  

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